The reason for this post are the incredibly wrong and inaccurate recipes I found in the internet, labeled as "traditional greek". You may think that it's silly to complain, but as a person who loves cooking and at the same time his culinary heritage is greek, I do feel offended. I believe that most of you are aware thet the greek food found outside greece is a bad imitation. How about seeing how the 'real thing" is made? :D
Greek cuisine likes strong tastes. Usualy, sweet is not mixed with salty and garlic and onion are two favored ingredients.
There are tons of pies, which emerged as a way to use leftover food. Also, from the refugees coming back from asia minor come foods that love cymin, cinnamon and other strong spices, that balance on the edge with the salty tastes they accompany. There are many variations for almost every dish, but I'll try to give you the most basic, generaly accepted forms of these dishes, as I know them from my family.
Let's see some basic, world known dishes and how they are actually made in greece.
The "Greek" salad.
This is a salad that actually doesn't exist in our menus. The salad that people in the states try to copy is called "country salad"- χωριάτικη. It can have some variations, but a base is this:
Slice tomatoes, onion ,feta (or white cheese if you can't find feta) and a cucomber. Add sliced green pepper if you want, and some olives. Season with some salt and oregano, and a tiny bit of black pepper (this is not a spicy salad- do not overdo it). Add olive oil to taste (does not need to be to much).
Little tips: Break the cheese with your hands. After mixing all the ingredients in the bowl, let it sit for some time (half an hour or so) to let flavors mix. Serve along with fresh bread, which you may (and should) dip into the salad.
Usualy, we use our tomatoes cold, since they come out of the freezer. It is better however to let them get to room temperature.
Possible variations: Some people add "παξιμάδι"-paksimathi (th read like in "the"), what you would call crackers. BUT not the usual snack crackers. see a photo : http://www.nline.gr/i041/1209_01.jpg . If you can't find greek crackers omit them.. If you do find, break them with your hands (don't let them be crumps), mix with the rest of the salad.
This is yogurt mixed with cucomber, garlic, dill and a little olive oil. The cucomber MUST NOT be mushed, but cut in short stripes, and the yogurt you will use should be fairly thick. It is not supposed to be watery, like a dressing, so try to strain as much water as possible from you ingredients. Suit the amount of garlic to your taste ( I consider the best tzatziki to be the one with the most garlic- in restaurats this is usually avoided for obvious reasons :D), add black pepper and serve with an olive a a teaspoon of olive oil on the top. Dont overdo it with the oil, or your tzatziki will be runny and we don't want that.
Traditionaly this is made on The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Contains mushed potatoes, garlic (lots, lots of it) and oil (also lots of it). It will send you straight to bed :D
1 kg of potatoes
5-6 cloves of garlic
1 cup of oil
the juice from 2 lemons
Boil the potatoes and mush them, do not add anything inside.
Crush the garlic and mix with the other ingredients.
Now, because this is 2010 you will propably put it in a mixer. Word has it that the best skordalia is made in Agion Oros, where the monks crush and mix everything by hand for hours untill it is all smooth.
It is used to accompany fried fish.
Mousaka is a dish consisting of eggplants, potatoes, minced meat and Bechamel. Take your oven pan cut the potatoes and eggplants and put them in the pan so that its bottom is covered. you want to have a floor of potatoes and a floor of eggplants, about half a cm fat each. Lightly fry the potatoes and eggplant you have, just to make them softer. Do not cook the potatoes completely, and let them sit on a paper to get the extra oil of. Take an onion, chop it in small pieces and get it in a pan with some olive oil (not too much-just cover the bottom). When it starts becoming transparent, and the meat, and toss around to avoid clumps. Add some diced tomatoes and garlic, some parsley and let it cook on high heat until there is very little water left. Season with pepper and salt and maybe a pinch of cinnamon (very very little). Get your potatoes and eggplants in the pan, create a floor and then another one with the meat.
For the Bechamel:
6 tablespoons of flour for every 2 cups of milk. Mix the flour and some milk in a blender, then add into a pan with the remaining milk and turn the heat on high.You want to stir it the whole time with a wooden spoon, because it burns very easily. Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter, salt, peper and a pinch of nutmeg (can be omited). It will thicken as you cook it. When it is thick enough, get it of the fire, wait for 1 minute then add one egg(adjust for larger quantities), while stirring vigorously. And some ground cheese and then add on top of your oven pan (over the meat). Top with cheese and then bake at 180 C until the top is golden brown. Let it cool before you try cutting it.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, and answer any questions you may have
Edited by FB User (Private) - 9/8/10 at 5:05am